‘Family Cloth’ is a rather twee way of saying ‘washable rags you wipe your bum with’. Bumbaclot is a Jamaican insult but it describes these bum cloths perfectly.
Warning – this post is a bit gross!
How does it work?
You can use a dry cloth to wipe when you wee and you can wet the cloth to wipe when you poo.
The dirty clothes go into a lidded bucket until you have enough to put on a hot wash. Some people have a netted bag in the bucket, some people put water and a few drops of tea tree oil in. Mine go straight in.
If you have used reusable nappies or washed your own sanitary protection this is not a difficult step to take, it actually feels logical. For the more squeamish it might be trickier. In shared homes it gets slightly harder but not too hard.
Why! Is this a step too far?
My sister said ‘if you had poo on your arm you wouldn’t wipe it off with tissue’. She is totally right, it makes sense to clean yourself properly instead of wiping stuff around. (I really should have eaten breakfast before I started writing!).
2) Money Saving:
I’m forever running out of loo roll and having to go to the corner shop. Once you have bought or made the family clothes the only cost is in washing them, and the time taken to do it. I have not done the maths on the laundering costs. I know that cloth nappies save hundreds of pounds compared to disposables and I’m guessing the saving is in a similar region with washable loo roll. If you want to correct me that is fine, I’m just not in a maths mood.
3) To be more sustainable
I buy recycled loo roll when it is available. The cheapest version in the supermarket comes in plastic wrap, which cannot be put into my recycling bin so it goes to landfill. You can buy more sustainable loo roll but it is usually not the cheapest option.
4) To freak out my teenage son:
Actually this wasn’t the original plan. Originally I thought he might get on board and have his own coloured clothes to distinguish them from mine. In reality the conversation went like this:
Me – “T, there is a new bin in the bathroom and it is not for rubbish.”
Son – “oh?”
Me – “I’m trying out this thing called ‘family cloth'”
Son – “oh?”
Me – “so the bin contains bits of fabric I’ve wiped my bum on”
Son – “ugh, you are disgusting, you are so gross, I’m not talking to you ever again, this conversation is over, ugh” (slams door)
My bum cloths are made from some towelling I had in my fabric stash. I cut it into long strips the width of loo roll and zig zagged the edges. Then I cut it into smaller sections and zig zagged those edges. I made about 20 in half an hour. They live in a basket in the bathroom, next to the loo, within easy reach. You need enough to make a load in your washing machine because unless you have cloth nappies to wash too, you will probably not want to wash them with other things. If you have kids that have grown out of real nappies, you could keep the washable wipes and use them.
I’m on week 2 now and have washed them twice. It is not like they are full of poo, you might get a little bit on one of them but we are not talking epic, joke shop ice cream swirl type poo quantities here. You probably won’t notice it. I’m not getting any smell from the bucket and I’m washing a load every 4 days.
They dry super fast, even in winter on a radiator.
There is just me and my disgusted teenager in my home. I’d rather other people didn’t use my bum cloth, it seems private, but you could make different colours for family members. Guests can stick to loo roll (oh my, awful use of words, sorry!).
I’ve had a couple of times where I’ve reached for loo roll out of habit and I managed to catch myself before putting the family cloth in the loo to flush.
I’m hoping my son recovers from being freaked out and I can make him some washable loo roll of his own. If he does I’m heading straight to a joke shop for the biggest fake poo I can find to put in the bucket. That is an irresistible practical joke!